As we age, our bodies aren’t the only thing that need a little extra maintenance. We might find ourselves losing track of time, unable to remember things as easily, or even feeling lost in familiar places. All of these can be early signs of dementia.
According to the World Health Organization, there are currently 47.5 million people worldwide who suffer from dementia, and there are 7.7 million new cases every year. One of the most common forms of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.
What can you do to help keep your mind sharp as you age? Here are 3 simple ways to slow cognitive decline.
Reading and Writing
Research suggests that reading and writing can slow cognitive decline.2 Beginning these activities early in life and continuing them through old age can be particularly beneficial. One study has found that lifelong avid readers had a 32 percent reduced rate of memory decline compared to those who had average mental stimulation.
However, starting these habits later in life is still better than not reading or writing at all. The same study found that those who did not read or write often had a 48 percent faster decline in memory.
Reading and writing are more mentally stimulating than watching TV or a movie. This is because text is more difficult to understand than an image. Both reading and writing boost memory skills, and it is vital to stick with these habits. Just like going to gym exercises your body, reading and writing exercise your brain. The more often you do it, the more benefits you will see.
Not only is regular exercise great for your physical health…it can be beneficial for your mental health, too. Some studies have shown that regular exercise can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive decline.
Exercise helps your brain keep old connections and make new ones. One study found that exercise benefits the part of your brain associated with recalling the past, and planning and organizing.3
There are many options for exercise for seniors that range from a senior specific workout at a gym to a simple 30-minute walk in the park. Other options include:
- Sweeping, or other simple household tasks
- Lifting light weights
Consistently exercising is key. 30-40 minutes of exercise each day is ideal. If you unable to to exercise each day, make an effort to exercise four or five days each week.
Social activities are an excellent way for you to fight isolation and loneliness, and being social can have wonderful cognitive benefits. According to one study, seniors that have high or medium levels of social engagement develop cognitive disabilities slower than those with little social interaction.
Another study found that the rate of cognitive decline was 70 percent less in seniors with an active social life.5 Even if you haven’t been socially active in the past, starting a social life later in life is still beneficial. Time with family and involvement in the community are two ways for seniors to get social time. Other ideas for social activities include:
- Joining a community club
- Participating in an exercise program
- Taking dance, music, or other lessons
Another way for you to include social interaction in your daily life is by hiring a caregiver. Caregivers can help you with daily activities, including taking you to and from community activities.
Let Bluebird Homecare help you find the right caregiver – contact us today.